KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Crews began a project on Interstate 40 near the North Carolina-Tennessee line Sunday that will limit traffic to one lane in each direction for months.
Construction of a new I-40 median wall is a part of a 2-year North Carolina Department of Transportation project, that will require the inside lanes of both directions to be closed until construction is complete in the spring.
Traffic will be in a one-lane pattern through May on I-40 between the state line and mile marker 5 so crews can safely build the new wall and traffic can safely pass the work zone, according to NCDOT.
“We’re replacing the wall now while we’re doing the rehabilitation because it has never been improved since the interstate opened,” Division 14 construction engineer Ted Adams said. “You can step over the wall right now. It’s that low. The new wall and other improvements will bring the wall up to modern standards and make the interstate safer.”
The project is a part of the plan to rehabilitate the interstate from the Fines Creek exit at mile marker 15 to the state line.
Half of the $33.8 project has been completed, which included milling out the old surface, laying down a new surface, replacing drainage systems and installing a guardrail from Fines Creek to Cold Springs Road.
On Sunday, the outside eastbound lane was closed from mile marker 451 in Tennessee to mile marker 4 in North Carolina. Transportation officials said traffic will be moved into the left lane to allow crews to remove existing pavement markings and place new markings that will allow traffic to use the existing shoulder as the right lane.
On Monday, the outside westbound lanes will be closed from mile marker 5 in North Carolina to the state line.
NCDOT officials said the one-day operations will establish the lanes that will be used through the spring. Crews will begin installing a temporary barrier wall in both directions starting at the state line and working east, next week. The existing wall will then be removed and construction will begin on the new safety barrier wall.
“We know this will be an inconvenience at times, and there will be delays,” Adams said. “But completing this work in this manner at this time of year is the best option considering the constraints of the mountain corridor. The project will provide better and safer driving conditions for at least 10-15 years into the future.”
Officials said nearly 28,000 vehicles per day traveled this stretch of the interstate in 2018.
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